Tuesday 27 September 2022
Peter Reynolds Composers Studio with the Carducci Quartet
6 brand new pieces in workshop by members of our 2022 Peter Reynolds Composers Studio.
Emily de Gruchy
Songs for Nothingness
Out to tolo
Running order TBC.
This is a chance to see new music making in progress and to witness how a new work moves from page to performance.
Within this session, you will see and hear the Carducci Quartet workshop and rehearse these new works, with input from the emerging composers. There is no “performance” as such, although we will be aiming for a final recorded run-through of each work. As such, audience members are free to drop in and drop out where appropriate.
Murrough Connolly is a composer and classical guitarist from Co. Kerry, Ireland. Currently based in Manchester, Murrough is studying for a PhD under the supervision of Prof. Camden Reeves. Through harmonic invention, Murrough’s work seeks to challenge conventional harmonic practices and discover distinctive new sounds by blending classical, jazz and blues styles. More recently, his harmonic explorations have inspired him to write pieces which attempt to connect visual colour and harmonic colour (e.g. Litmus Papers and Ildaite).
Murrough’s music has been widely performed by outstanding performers and ensembles across the UK and Ireland, including: Psappha, Quatuor Danel, Katherine Hunka, Trio Atem, The Scotia Ensemble and The Irish Guitar Quartet. These performances have resulted in exciting commissions to write music for the SCS Killaloe Music Festival, the UCC Singers and The Kerry School of Music. More recently, Murrough was selected for Psappha’s Composing for Piano Scheme 2022 and is working with Psappha’s Artistic
Director, Ben Powell, to produce a piece for solo piano.
Al-Andalus was inspired by my trip to the Alhambra Palace in Granada in August 2022. As a classical guitarist, I was blown away the amazing guitar music and flamenco that can be heard throughout the city. The piece ‘Asturias’ by Isaac Albeniz is a favourite of mine and was played by numerous street guitarists. Most notably, this piece was audible in the surrounding streets during my incredible visit to the Alhambra Palace. Using this experience as source of inspiration, Al-Andalus attempts to recreate the music of the region by exploring various pizzicato techniques, embracing the rhythmic vibrancy of flamenco and paying homage to Isaac Albeniz.
Harriet Grainger is a young British composer with a background in dance and as a cellist and pianist. Her music suggests something unquiet within its s stillness, bringing landscapes to life. She creates a quiet moment of observation for the listener that stirs the soul.
Harriet’s music concentrates on achieving an equilibrium between power and fragility. Delicate, weightless, and sparse passages are often interrupted by, or tainted with, darker tones and shadows. Influenced by desolate natural landscapes such as tundra, deserts, caverns, and the deep ocean, the use of wide and resonant spaces plays an important architectural role in Harriet’s creative process.
Harriet studied composition at the Royal College of Music in London as an RCM Award Holder supported by a Douglas and Hilda Simmonds scholarship and a Clifton Parker Award Holder, and also generously received a Vaughan Williams Bursary from the RVW Trust. Previously, she also studied composition at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
Harriet has been the recipient of numerous academic and professional music awards. Recently, her music has been performed in concerts in the United Kingdom, Austria, Italy, and China.
Silent Ocean is Harriet’s first String Quartet, composed in 2022. At the heart of the work is a small yet sorrowful melody. Harriet’s inspiration for this melody was a fisherman who was whistling a tune one overcast morning in the
harbour of the fishing hamlet where she lives. With mist swirling across the bay, a chill in the wind, dark clouds overhead and strong waves offshore, a lone seagull circling overhead and saltwater in the air, and the whistling fisherman, she hoped to encapsulate this beautiful but lonely moment into a piece of music.
The melody is introduced by the first violin after the close of a delicate opening section, featuring a melancholy pizzicato and sparse, ethereal surrounding textures. It is repeated throughout the piece — passing from instrument to instrument — evolving and fragmenting as the surrounding textures become
stronger. Soon the piece begins to return to fragility, with a desolate soundscape, before fading away to silence.
Recently, Harriet learned that there are oceans on several moons throughout our solar system, that are covered with thick layers of ice — some vast and unfathomably deep. She was inspired to learn that Earth is not the only ocean world, and hoped to write music that could possibly describe these lonely oceans. This led to the idea for the title, Silent Ocean, where ‘silent’ refers to ‘lonely’, which she felt also perfectly expressed the moment in the harbour.
Hailing from Jersey, Emily de Gruchy is an experimental, multidisciplinary composer. She has collaborated with some of the U.K’s leading artists and contemporary musicians, including the Riot Ensemble, the Hermes Experiment, Lewisham Borough Council, Manchester Contemporary Youth Opera, Benedict Taylor, Noah Max & The Echo Ensemble and Thēo TJ Lowe & Transitions Dance Company. In July 2022, Emily released her first debut album, and with this coming together… we grow apart – a piece for flexible ensemble – which can be found on most streaming platforms.
She has received notable mentions and prizes since the start of her career, including being a finalist for the National Young Composers Award (NCEM) in 2017; being awarded a year-long compositional residency with the Picture Gallery at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2018; a three-year recurring residency with the Royal Holloway New Music Collective from 2016 to 2019; and being a finalist for the Trinity Laban Daryl Runswick Composition Prize in 2021. She was a recipient of a prestigious Government of Jersey Bursary, and her studies were generously supported by the Henry Wood Accommodation Trust, the John Lobb Trust and the Paul Brown Memorial Fund.
Described as writing pieces with “immense qualities” and producing “assured and controlled compositions” Emily’s music is heavily inspired by chance procedures and unconventional notational practice, inspired by the likes of the 1960s New York School (John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff) and European avant-garde composers Per Nørgård, György Ligeti, Witold Lutosławski, and Olivier Messiaen.
Emily has recently completed her Masters in Composition at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, under the tutelage of Deirdre Gribbin, Dominic Murcott, Edward Jessen and Paul Newland. She also holds a first-class Bachelor of Music (with Honours) from Royal Holloway, University of London, where she was mentored by Mark Bowden, Samantha Fernando, Aaron Holloway-Nahum, and Nina Whiteman. Her research interests include musical cryptography, and depicting psychology, psychiatry, neurodiversity, and neurology in music.
This is a short piece about the feeling, and state, of nothingness.
It was written during a time of my life where for months on end, I did virtually nothing in the grand scheme of things. I did nothing to advance my professional practice, my personal life – nothing at all.
In the (loosely quoted) wise words of an old tutor of mine, Gwyn Pritchard – composers are often regarded as Gods, being blessed with a divine artistic spirit in order to produce their masterpieces… that the creativity they use is often out-of-reach for the ordinary person. This is simply not true, and sometimes we, as composers, struggle to figure out what we want to convey if we are going through turbulent times such as these.
This is an instance where I struggled to find inspiration. I had nothing to give artistically but the bare skin on my back, whilst staring into the abyss of what my future will look like.
The piece is designed to depict sounds emitting from a bottomless pit, where there is no end in sight — an artistic void.
The instruments work against each other, stuck within their own patterns, and only come together at certain points to depict an ascent or descent into a black cloud. The rumbles and creaks imply that something could emerge, but nothing really does except for an attempt to build an idea. Said idea eventually is beaten into a pulp and shrivels up and back into the artistic oblivion.
Israel LAI Miu-yeung is a composer, collaborative pianist, organist, conductor, and hyperpolyglot from Hong Kong. His music has been performed extensively in Hong Kong, the UK and abroad. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Composition at the University of Manchester, having read for an MPhil in Music at the University of Oxford and a BA in Music at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was previously an exchange student at Lund University, Sweden, and is a member of the Hong Kong Composers’ Guild and the Royal College of Organists.
Israel’s monumental performances include his graduation concert, where he premiered his clarinet concerto and performed Stenhammar’s piano concerto; and his opera in one act, Bou6, a commentary on current events in Hong Kong. He has also given recitals of lesser-known 20th-century works and multiple performances of his song cycle Zerfernte Gedichte, as well as conducting local ensembles such as the St Giles Orchestra. He has worked with renowned ensembles such as Psappha, the BBC Singers, the Mivos Quartet, the Kreutzer Quartet, and the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, and is a two-time finalist of the New Generation competition, which was broadcast on radio. He provided the soundtrack for a 2022 feature-length documentary film. He is now researching the concept of density in composition.
out to tolo
out to tolo outlines the flow of Shing Mun River in Shatin, Hong Kong, towards the Tolo Harbour. It portrays the diversity of landscapes and architecture that the river passes by, and the sudden widening towards the sea. out to tolo is written for the Carducci Quartet, as part of the Peter Reynolds Composers Studio 2022, at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival.
Chloe Knibbs is a composer and sound artist motivated by lyricism, vulnerability, text incorporating social issues and autobiography in her work. Informed by feminism and interdisciplinary approaches, her work encompasses opera, theatre, choral and chamber works, installations and song-writing. Her music has been described as “quietly effective with every note made to count” and as having an “unmistakable ring of authenticity” (Musical Opinion).
Performed in and out of the concert hall, Chloe’s work has been in venues including Birmingham New Street Station, October Gallery, MeWe360 and the International Anthony Burgess Centre. Her commissioners include the Sound and Music, Birmingham Opera Company, Illuminate Womens’ Music, British Council Music. Recent projects include the release of the EP Bargaining on OddPop Records – a set of songs and chamber works – and a choral
commission for the Marian Consort exploring the life of composer Raffaella Aleotti.
Taking inspiration from the Wandelweiser tradition, Mauve combines prolonged chords with delicate interweaving melodies. The work was written in rural Ireland and draws on the colours, atmosphere and feelings of dusk. Many thanks to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig for their support during the composition of this work.
Joseph Martin (b.1999) is a British composer, pianist and teacher born in Huntingdon, Cambridge. He grew up and was educated in Carmarthenshire in South-West Wales, before moving to Cardiff to study a Bachelor of Music degree. He achieved his Master of Philosophy degree in Composition from the University of Cambridge in 2021, and now works as a teacher and accompanist.
Joseph’s music is receptive to the influence of human culture and his surroundings, with key themes including various ancient mythologies, the physical world around us and human experiences in the 21st-Century. His background as a performer has versed him in music for orchestra, symphonic wind band, big band, symphony chorus, chamber choir and male voice choir,
all of which inform his compositional process and decisions. Joseph’s music is principally narrative-driven, whether that be derived from stories mythological,
fictional or personal, but more recently he has been exploring the abundance of sounds that can be derived from traditional ensembles.
Joseph is thrilled to be participating in the Peter Reynolds Composers Studio at the Vale of Glamorgan festival this year.
Magnetic Resonance is a reflection on my experiences over the past two years dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of a brain tumour. Following an MRI scan in April 2021, I was diagnosed with a lesion in the posterior cingulate cortex of my brain, three months before what should have been the end of my master’s programme. That MRI scan, as it turns out, would be the first of many to come, and the process of the scan is one that I have become intimately familiar with.
The plastic cage-like contraption that sat over my face whilst I was slid head-first into a whirring, clunking, beeping white plastic tube was enough to set my stomach flipping, instilling a deep sense of claustrophobia. I thought that I might get used to the process, but, following the diagnosis, the experience did not lighten as soon as I had hoped it would. However, I grew more and more familiar with the myriad of sounds produced by these great machines. In time, I began to hear the music in amongst the ‘noise’.
Therefore, in this mosaic of sound, I found the inception of this piece. The lilting 6/8 ostinato, first heard in the viola, is the idling sound of the machine, constant and unwavering. It is often seemingly interrupted by various whirs and beeps, drowned out by guttural growls and scratches, but it always emerges unfazed.
Despite my state of anxiety with these scans, I began to find familiarity, and even a bit of comfort, at times. So much so that on a couple of occasions I have fallen asleep mid-scan, only to be awoken by the technicians sliding me out again. Sleeping inside an active piece of medical machinery is hardly a restful experience, and I would often emerge slightly confused. This sleepy, dozy feeling is emulated in the second section of the piece, with the slow, plodding pizzicato cello line remaining grounded for a significant portion. The various
clanking and knocking sounds created by the machine can still be heard, however, permeating the more mellow atmosphere. A simple melody emerges in the viola, but is destabilised by the cello and the harsher sounds in the violins.
Following this, the lilting sound of the idling machine emerges again, but it never reaches the same level of presence as it did in the first half of the piece. Instead, there is a feeling of fluidity, and the piece finishes awash with the ethereal sounds of harmonics in the violins and cello, with the machine idle present to the end.
This piece, and my description of it, illustrate the metaphor that these MRI scans have become for my experience with this health struggle so far. Right from the diagnosis, I was set on a path that has been turbulent and full of interruptions, but it is one that has never stopped moving forward with a sense of perpetual motion. The longer my treatment has gone on, the more I have adjusted, learnt, and found new pleasures in this crazy journey.